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Dublin Has Long Agenda, Thorny Issues

By Blake Proctor

With the County canceling its August 3rd  meeting due to Tropical Storm Isaias, the Dublin Commission retained its earliest-in-the-county status with its meeting August 6th with all Commissioners in attendance. After gaveling the meeting to order at 6pm, Mayor Darryl Dowless provided the invocation, and the Board got down to a thirteen-item agenda.

Following approval of July’s meeting minutes, and there being no guests nor citizen input, the first items were the continuing concerns of opening Town Hall and the Community Center to the public. With Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order issued Wednesday the 5th, extending Phase 2 restrictions until September 11th, it was decided that the Board would wait until then to revisit these matters.

In a housekeeping matter, Town Clerk Ashley Matthews informed the Board that the Invoice Cloud fee that had been approved in July was a $150.00 flat rate monthly, regardless of the number of utility and tax bills processed. Commissioner Jeff Smith recommended that the Town look into First Bank’s online payment service. Ms. Matthews will look into the matter and have a response for the next meeting.

Public Works Director Jonathan Ward informed the Board that the NC Department of Transportation does not want town street name signs bolted onto stop signs on state-maintained roads; and, they have, in fact, taken several of these street name signs off their poles. Mr. Ward had the names of two NCDOT area sign supervisors, whose contact numbers Commissioner Smith requested that so he could try to clear this matter up.

Mayor Dowless updated the Board about his and Commissioner David Hursey’s presence at the July 28th Board of Elections meeting; they had attended to clear the air regarding the Election Board’s decision to not offer early voting in Dublin this year due to pricing and a lack of internet access. He told the Elections Board that it would have been preferred had that Board contacted Dublin elected officials. He also invited that Board’s members and Executive Director Christopher Williams to attend the August 6th meeting.

The Mayor reminded the Board that the Town’s rental ordinance requires a $200.00-per-day rental fee for the Community Center, but that the Elections Board has balked at that amount as other locations throughout the county charge half that. On a motion by Commissioner Hursey with a second by Commissioner Smith, the Board voted unanimously to charge the Board of Elections $100.00 for each of the three days required to hold the general election this November, as well as for future general elections. Mayor Dowless asked that Mr. Williams specifically be extended an invitation to Dublin’s September 3rd meeting, when there will also be discussion to install internet service in the Community Center.

Town Clerk Matthews relayed to the Commission that the Infrastructure Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-I) training for Fair Housing Lending would not be in-person due to the Covid19 pandemic; referring to material in their packets, she said this was their training material provided by the Council of Governments, and that they were all to be expected to read and know the material.

The Board unanimously approved the retention of LKC Engineering from Aberdeen to provide the Water Asset Inventory and Assessment Program required to become eligible for financial assistance to improve the Town’s water system. In a related update, DPW Director Ward informed the Board that CDBG-I construction crews have now completed the section of water mains from State Road 87 to David Street.

Again unanimously, the Board approved the required resolution to borrow $225,000 from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for the Baker Creek Sewer Outfall Replacement Project that will replace sewer lines from Bethel Church Road to 4th Street. Remedying the inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems on that section of sewer lines should save enough in current excess payments to Elizabethtown for sewer treatment to more than pay the debt service on the loan.

Returning to the Covid19 problem, the Board pondered the question of needed alterations in Town Hall to provide social distancing as well as protection for staff. Although approved at the last meeting, there has been difficulty in obtaining quotes from qualified contractors willing to bid. Clerk Matthews reminded the Board that the $10,000 allocated by the County for Covid19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) had to be spent by December.

Mr. Ward said he would design the required modifications within the building, to include a 36-inch glass doorway, so that bidders would have a definite scope of work on which to bid. In that vein, Ms. Matthews reminded the Board that there is a mold problem in Town Hall that needed attention. It was the Board’s consensus that qualified mold remediation firms be contacted to provide quotes.

It was recently discovered that an accessory building was built without the required building permit, and additionally is out of setback compliance. The owners are now seeking to place a modular home on the site; however, they will need a variance for the setback on the accessory building before they can proceed. It was decided to turn the entire matter over to the Planning Board for resolution. Town Attorney Whitley Ward reminded the Board that she does not usually attend Planning Board meetings, but would be available if needed.

In final action, the Hispanic Store at 7482 Albert Street wishes to provide off-premises beer and wine sales; in accordance with ABC regulations, they are required to obtain a positive Local Government Opinion from the Town Board. On a motion by Commissioner David Kirby and a second by Commissioner Smith, this approval was given by unanimous vote.

There being no other departmental or housekeeping matters to come before the Board, this unusually long but highly successful meeting adjourned at 7:33pm.

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